It can be difficult to tell if someone is flirting with you, even on a good day. People get nervous, they try to "play it cool," and some simply lack the self confidence necessary to flirt in an obvious way. If you've ever encountered this issue — especially when it comes to someone you're interested in — then you know how annoying it can be. Do they like you? Or don't they? It can be tough to tell.
That's why it helps to start recognizing the subtle signs of flirting. "It is important because you could be missing an opportunity to connect with someone," licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Christopher Barnes tells Bustle. It can save you a lot of guesswork while also opening the door for further communication. If that cute stranger at the coffee shop or your love interest at work is throwing out these flirting signs, then you can help them along.
When you do pick up on someone making subtle flirting advances, give yourself permission to be brave and make the first move. As Fran Greene, flirting coach and author of The Secret Rules of Flirting, tells Bustle, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained. If you do nothing, you get nothing, but if you do something, you have a chance.” If that still scares you, just think of this experience as building up practice and confidence, making each time you put yourself out there that much easier (even if it doesn’t go smoothly the first time).
Your willingness to reciprocate the vibe might help your crush feel more comfortable opening up in return. "When you're nervous, it's even more difficult to come across clearly with your intentions, usually because of fear of rejection," author and life coach Jaya Jaya Myra tells Bustle. So try to be understanding when it comes to a crush’s failed attempts at catching your eye. That shy stranger may seem disinterested at first, but if they're displaying any of these signs below, they're likely more into you than you think.
1. Their Behavior Noticeably Changes When You're Around
That lovelorn coworker may not openly flirt with you in a way that screams "I'm into you." But it might still be obvious if they act differently when you're around. "Do they clam up? Talk more? Laugh more? Touch more? Tell more jokes? While some people might be obvious flirts, most simply display flirting through nervous behaviors," author and life coach Kali Rogers tells Bustle. "So how do they act when they are nervous? See if the shifts in behavior line up with nervous ticks, and you'll be onto something."
2. They Listen To What You’re Saying
We’ve all been there: chatting with someone at the bar while they’re completely zoned out, probably thinking about the pizza they’re about to order when they get home. But when a good listener comes along — someone who nods along, asks follow-up questions, and references comments you previously made — that’s a clear giveaway that they’re interested.
“Listening is very important,” Greene tells Bustle. “Because if somebody is just doing all the talking, they’re not flirting. They’re just putting on a show.” Keep a close eye on who listens intently to what you’re saying, and who just wants to hear themselves talk.
3. They Keep Making Eye Contact
Eye contact is incredibly flirty, but it can be misconstrued if you think someone is "disinterested." So don't allow yourself to be fooled. "Someone that is interested in you will hold eye contact longer than normal and will smile," dating and communication coach Sarah Curnoles tells Bustle. But you might also catch an admirer's eye just as they nervously look away.
4. They Ask You Lots Of Questions
“One of the ways to really show that you’re flirting is to ask questions,” Greene explains. Remember that someone who only talks about themselves isn’t flirting — they’re just monologuing. On the flip side, if your hopeful flirting buddy is asking you questions and showing a genuine interest in your answer, then they are probably super curious about you...and that’s flirty AF.
5. They Move Into Your Line Of Sight
The next time you're out mingling at a party, take note of the hot but "standoffish" stranger who keeps magically ending up in your line of sight. As Curnoles says, "You will also notice they find a way to be in your eye line, or they will move so they are closer in proximity." Cute, right?
6. They're Constantly Joking Around With You
When someone lightly roasts or teases you, it's almost always an awkward attempt at not-so-subtle flirting. "While not the most straightforward way to flirt, it's extremely common for people who don't want to make their intentions obvious,” Myra says. Whether they’re making jokes, being sarcastic, or playfully bantering with you, a little good-humored roasting can go a long way on the flirty scale.
7. They're Always The First To Like Your Photos
Social media makes it easy to give someone attention without having to talk to them. That's why it's a go-to for people who want to flirt but can't quite make it happen IRL. "If someone is constantly liking or commenting on your social media, they're probably interested in you," Myra says. "With all the content flying around nowadays, if someone takes the time to check out everything you post, you know there is more to it than meets the eye."
8. They’re Full Of Good Banter
Fans of Love Island will know just how important great banter is. Banter could be described as back-and-forth joking around or teasing conversations, where you may not be talking about anything substantial but are definitely sending out flirty signals. This can be a solid flirting sign, whether in person or over text.
“A great flirtatious text is like a good tennis match,” Greene explains, “when there's a lot of back and forth.” Stay in tune with the energy and pace of the conversation, and see if they’re keeping you on your toes.
9. They Fidget, Especially In Suggestive Ways
OK, so let's say you're hanging out and your crush starts playing with their hair or grabbing onto their wine glass. Definitely pay attention. "If they are playing with their glass and even more so the stem of their glass, then that is a subtle sign of flirting [and] interest," certified relationship coach Susan Golicic, Ph.D. tells Bustle. "It gives someone who is nervous something to do with their hands, and it is subconsciously a suggestive gesture."
10. Their Body Is Pointed In Your Direction
When you're not sure if someone's into you or not, take a look at their feet (or their knees if they're sitting down). "If their knees are pointed in your direction under the table, then they are interested," says Golicic. "Their body is giving you their attention, even if their brain is having trouble engaging because of nervousness."
11. They Seem Very Relaxed And Present
While not flirting, per se, someone might be into you if they take on a relaxed and calm demeanor whenever you're around, spiritual counselor Davida Rappaport tells Bustle. This could be a way of playing it cool, but it's also a sign they're enjoying your presence. So, if they don't check their phone or look at their watch while you’re together, take it as a good sign.
12. They Can’t Stop Smiling
“Smiling is the number one way to change how you look,” Greene says. While putting together a cute ‘fit or flexing some winged liner is one way to put forth effort, a smile is certainly the flirtiest accessory. “When you smile,” Greene continues, “it really says to someone, ‘I like you, and I accept you.’” If you’re looking for subtle flirting signs, this one might be right under their nose.
13. They Use Self-Deprecating Humor
While maybe not the most mature way to flirt, it is a good sign if your crush is really laying it on thick with the jokes at their own expense. "When they point out a weakness and shine a light on your strength, it's a flirty way of bonding," says relationship expert Lisa Concepcion. They may also be hoping you'll step in to "help" them with a perceived flaw or to balance them out.
14. They Always Laugh At Your Jokes
It seems like such a simple thing, but a person with a crush will always hear what you say and make an effort to show their appreciation. So, if this potential partner is always responding to you with a laugh or a smile, take note. As matchmaker Bonnie Winston says, "If they giggle at your jokes, that may be a subtle way of flirting."
While not necessarily classic signs of flirting, these little gestures are still the real deal. And they might even mean that nervous, slightly standoffish person is actually totally into you.
Dr. Christopher Barnes, licensed clinical psychologist
Jaya Jaya Myra, author and life coach
Kali Rogers, life coach and author of Conquering Your Quarter-Life Crisis: How To Get Your Sh*t Together In Your 20s
Sarah Curnoles, dating and communication coach
Susan Golicic, PhD, certified relationship coach
Davida Rappaport, spiritual counselor
Lisa Concepcion, relationship expert
Bonnie Winston, matchmaker
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